Furious Riders - Colonial Hoons
In an age before automobiles, some residents still felt a need for speed in urban areas, endangering the lives of pedestrians. The Towns Police Act was enacted to deal with this unsociable behaviour termed “Furious Riding”.
|Early View of Queen Street, Brisbane showing horse traffic.|
Furious riding cases were common cases in the Colonial courts.
GROSS MISCONDUCT.-At the Police-office, on Thursday, a recently imported prisoner of the Crown, named Dennis Galvin, attached to the General Hospital, was placed at the bar charged with furiously riding in the public streets, and conducting himself in an insolent manner towards A. C. G. Kent.
It appeared that the prisoner was ordered by Dr. Ballow to lead his horse to the Government Paddock; instead of doing so, he mounted the horse, and galloped him through the streets. On reaching the paddock the prisoner found that he had forgotten the key, and proceeded to effect an entrance in a summary way by pulling down the fence.
Mr. Kent, who had been watching his proceedings, went to the paddock, and desired him to desist, when the prisoner indulged in very gross language, and abused Mr. Kent all the way on his return to his own house.
On being called upon for his defence, the prisoner behaved in the most impertinent manner to the Bench, which called forth a severe reprimand from the Police Magistrate, who sentenced him to fourteen days solitary confinement.
It was not only males who indulged in these carefree habits. In 1847, a certain Mrs. Bailey was charged with furious riding in company with a Mr. Macintyre.
Mrs. Bailey was well known in Brisbane Town as the proprietress of a “house” in George Street popular with member of the local regiment, but more of Mrs. Bailey anon.
Understandably, Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Macintyre chose to be discreet and not appear in court together.
Furious Riding -On Monday an information was filed by the Chief Constable against Mr. Macintyre and Mrs. Bailey, for riding furiously through the streets in North Brisbane on Saturday evening last.
As neither of the defendants appeared before the Bench to answer the charge, evidence was taken in their absence, when the case was fully proved by the Chief Constable and a person named Sloan, who stated that several children playing in the public streets in the town would have been run over, had they not opportunely removed them to a place of safety on seeing the horses coming at full speed.
The Bench fined each of the defendants £5 and costs, which was paid. We hope that the result of this case will operate as a caution to persons galloping through the public thoroughfares; an example was required, and we have no doubt that others who think proper to indulge in freaks of this kind will be mulcted to the same extent, as the Magistrates are determined to put down such dangerous, practices.
Then there was the combination of speed and alcohol. A rural worker in Ipswich for a spree, as was fell afoul of the law.
William Stewart, an up-country "flash-man,'" was confined by Mr. Hart, for being drunk and disorderly at Little Ipswich, and was fined five shillings. He was then, on the information of the Chief Constable, brought up for furious riding, and endangering the life of a child, as well as assaulting Mr Hart in the execution of his duty. Mr. H., however, withdrew the information, but the Justices considered him worthy of being fined £2.
As children of the times often played in the streets, furious riding was punishable by substantial fines.
"Furiously Riding - On Tuesday last Richard Bostridge appeared at the Police Office to answer an information exhibited by the Chief Constable, for riding a horse in a furious manner through the streets of South Brisbane, on the previous Sunday.
Constable Swinburne deposed to the fact, and that he saw a little child fall down with fright as the defendant was galloping along Grey-street. Mr. Little, for the defence, contended that there was nothing to show that defendant had urged on the horse, and that he had neither whip nor spur, but the Bench considered the case proved, and fined defendant 40s. with 5s. 6d. costs.
-- Yesterday Mr. Richard Sexton was charged on information with riding furiously at Kangaroo Point, on Sunday last. He pleaded guilty, and was fined 20s., with 5s. 6d. costs.
Technically, galloping through the street was not against the law. The offence of “furious riding” had to also involve “actual endangerment”. In 1854, a Mr. Orr had his charge dismissed due to lack of o proof of “actual endangerment”.
Understandably the local press expressed outrage by ending their report of the case with an exclamation mark!
POLICE CASES. - On Tuesday, Mr. James Orr, of South Brisbane, appeared to answer an information charging him with furiously riding though the town on the l8th January last. Mr. Anderson, District Constable at Kangaroo Point, deposed to having seen defendant, on the day named, galloping after a herd of horses, through the public streets; and Capt. Geary, the Harbour Master, deposed that he witnessed too same thing, and called the Constable's attention thereto.
The Bench, however, dismissed the case, as there was no direct proof that any person was "actually endangered" as required by the Act. (!)
|Early View of Brisbane Street, Ipswich|
One defendant charged with furious riding down the main street of Ipswich in 1857, maintained that he was only breaking in a horse for a friend, and riding a horse “pretty hard” was part of the process.
This explanation failed to impress the Bench and earned the urban horse-breaker a further admonishment.
Patrick Hill was brought up under the Towns Police Act for furious riding in Brisbane-street. Mr. Cooke appeared for the defendant. The Chief Constable called Constable Harris to prove the fact; who stated that he had spoken to defendant at the time, as there were a number of persons in the street, who had scarcely time to get out of the way.
Mr. Cooke called, as witness for the defence, Adam Watson, who stated that he was a horse-breaker by profession; that the horse was in his charge to break in, and he lent him to the defendant to ride and keep quiet. Mr. Cooke argued that it was the custom of the country, when breaking in young horses, to ride them pretty hard, to keep down their temper.
The Chief Constable stated that, even in that case, the defendant had acted illegally, for according to the 15th section of the same Act no person was allowed to break in horses in the streets. The bench found defendant guilty, and fined him £3 and costs, or one month in Brisbane gaol; they also told him that he had acted illegally in breaking in a horse in the public streets, and warned him not to do so for the future.
|Legal Furious Riding in Open Country|
© K. C. Sbeghen, 2012.
 A ticket of leave man or “exile” i.e. an ex-convict.
 The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 8 May 1847
 The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 31 July 1847
 The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 20 March 1852
 The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 2 July 1853
 The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 18 February 1854
 The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 28 March 1857